Josh Torlop, Marketing & PR Officer at Trentham Monkey Forest explains how important raising awareness is for the endangered primate: the Barbary macaque.
Communicative behaviours expressed by Barbary macaques, within their close-bonded groups; are an important way in which the primates protect the troop, maintain order, and sustain co-existence in the large groups they live in.
Barbary macaques communicate using vocalisations, facial expressions, gestures, and body postures. Thanks to the research conducted in our parks, scientists have identified around 100 different communicative behaviours and their respective meanings.
Whether it’s an alarm or a protest call – the noise the primate generates is so important within the troop… but it’s not just within the troop where communications play a pivotal role for the species and its further survival.
One of the key ways in which Trentham Monkey Forest helps to protect this fascinating species is by trying to raise public awareness about the endangered status of the Barbary macaque. When visitors experience our unique woodland, we want them to leave with a bitter-sweet feeling. Sweet - knowing they had a fun, amazing day out observing the fascinating natural behaviours of a fantastic primate. Bitter – realising that this monkey is struggling in the wild.
There are currently less than 8,000 wild Barbary macaques and numbers have been rapidly declining over the last 30 years. This year we saw the wild primates face further turmoil, when an area in Morocco where they are known to inhabit was ravaged by a wildfire. So, this year was extremely important for the forest to heighten the profile of the species in the media, potentially more so than ever before. (monkey-forest.com/devastating-moroccan-wildfire-tears-through-wild-barbary-macaque-habitat)
Throughout each season, we try to create engaging news stories in order to get as many people as possible talking about Barbary macaques in the media space. This year has been a phenomenal year in that respect for the primate.
Overall, we managed to achieve 408 coverage pieces over the year, reaching (potentially) hundreds of millions of people.
Our coverage momentum and media profile had a fantastic leg-up, from the very start of 2022, as we did something quite unusual in order to get media attention.
We managed to share our conservation message on a global scale, by going viral across a variety of Online, Radio, and TV platforms worldwide.
To ‘motivate’ our troop during mating season, we invited into the forest David Largie, a local Marvin Gaye impersonator, to serenade the primates with the most well-known love songs of all time, to help inspire them to ‘get it on’.
The event’s intention was to serve as an important reminder of the endangered status of the Barbary macaque, and the detrimental situations affecting its wild population using a classic tongue-in-cheek approach. Hopefully, the story inspired and provoked its receivers to ask the question "why did Monkey Forest go to this extreme to ensure the park has as many baby monkeys as possible in 2022?”
We were absolutely over the moon to see that overnight, the event went globally viral. The story went on to achieve 220 pieces, totalling an estimated reach of 984,884,354 million people all over the world.
To be talked about by the likes of CNN, James Corden’s Late Late Show, and most UK Nationals in Print, Online and Radio was absolutely amazing and something the team will never forget as an important success story in our mission to create mass awareness for the species.
Since the event, the forest carried on this media momentum, right until the last day of opening. At the final tally we reached (potentially) over 1 billion people across the season.
A few highlights include our features on Blue Peter, Good Morning Britain and Channel 4’s Four in a Bed. It was also great to work with a variety of celebrities and influencers, such as the boyband Scouting for Girls and young conservationist Aneeshwar Kunchala, to louden our Barbary macaque conservation voice.
Furthermore, towards the end of October we were very proud to have been awarded the coveted Visit England ‘Best Told Story Award’ for the second year running. It is brilliant for the park to have been recognised by the national tourism board and really highlights the wider team’s passion and dedication for the park. In our visitors end-of-year feedback survey, 97% said that they’d recommend Monkey Forest to a friend, and this is a testament to the amazing team we have in and around the monkey enclosure.
It turns out: communications are absolutely key for Barbary macaques- in and out of the troop!
We now begin to look towards 2023 to see if we can repeat the success of 2022, to further help this fascinating primate species whose numbers are rapidly declining in the wild.
Communications is not always easy, but it is essential for every organisation that is passionate about the natural world. Nature needs communicators.
By Josh Torlop, Marketing & PR Officer at Trentham Monkey Forest.
All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions.
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